Editor’s note: Michael Huckabee, director of the physician assistant program at UNMC, blogs for LiveWellNebraska.com
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Only placental mammals have them, and in most species they’re small slits, if seen at all. On you and me, they’re more obvious. Da Vinci sketched it as the bull’s eye of the human body, and some religions find it to be a metaphor for our spiritual health. All this hubbub over the belly button. And there’s even more to discover.
All Connected. A scar now, but previously the navel was the umbilicus, delivering our sole nourishment through two arteries and a vein as the primal connection to our mothers. While your belly button may seem inconsequential, it’s a distinct reminder that we all have mothers, though “mom” may come in many different forms. That somehow makes us all, even those who don’t have belly buttons, a little more connected. Sometimes newborns or premature babies have umbilical hernias or more serious developmental issues that require a surgery that removes the navel. Some adults have also had this surgery. In fact, Alfred Hitchcock is famous for having no belly button.
Belly Button Fuzz. Perhaps this is the biggest drawback to the navel. The lint, similar to what can fill the clothes dryer vent, accumulates at the navel. The good news is, now we know how. Navel hairs rub with clothing to create static electricity that collects clothing fibers. The concentric circles of abdominal hair direct lint toward the navel. The fix? Simply shaving belly hair. An alternative is the first-ever practical use of body piercing, as belly button rings will also prevent fibers from lodging in the navel.
Cutest Button. Some remember the 1960s when bare navels were censored, including I Dream of Jeannie’s Barbara Eden and all of Disney’s beach scenes with Annette
Funicello. Cher shared her navel as a television-first in the 1970s, and Marilyn Monroe holds the honors for the first navel exposure in the movies. If you’re concerned about attractiveness, one study found 86 percent of men and 89 percent of women found the T-shaped navel (oval with a hood on top) as the most attractive. Second and third runners up are the “hooded vertical” with 8 percent of the female vote and “horizontal dip,” winning 7 percent of the male vote.
Navel Inhabitants. Last year scientists reported that 1,400 strains of bacteria consider the human belly button home. Among 95 volunteers, scientist found eighty percent of the bacteria was common and harmless, but 662 strains were unrecognized, some previously found only in the ocean. Since those first results, hundreds more volunteers have swabbed their navels with results yet to come.
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